Voting Record of Deb Haaland, Dept of Interior Secretary-Designate

from the newsletter of the Congressional analytical site: “The GovTrack” < >

Deb Haaland is Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior;
How has she voted on Interior issues in Congress?

Dec 28 · 7 min read — Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM1)

A member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM1) has been nominated as the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary. The first-term congresswoman, previously chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party, currently serves as Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, including as Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

The $12.6 billion department she is poised to run, subject to Senate confirmation, controls about one-fifth of all U.S. land. It also houses such bureaus as the National Parks Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

How has Rep. Haaland voted in Congress on such issues, and what legislation has she introduced or cosponsored on these subjects?

Works across the aisle

In 2019, among all House freshmen, Rep. Haaland introduced the most bills with at least one bipartisan cosponsor, with 13. (Reps. Anthony Brindisi [D-NY22] and Josh Harder [D-CA10] tied for second place, with 12 each.)

Curiously, that bipartisan outreach did not apply nearly as much in the opposite direction, when she was cosponsoring other legislators’ bills. Among all representatives, freshmen or otherwise, her rate of cosponsoring bills introduced by members across the aisle ranked 11th-least.

In 2019, she introduced more House bills that attracted a Senate companion than any other House member, freshman or otherwise, with 15. (Reps. Judy Chu [D-CA27] and Rosa DeLauro [D-CT3] tied for second place, with 14 each.) This reflects Haaland’s ability to work well with the upper chamber, possibly fortelling a relatively uncontroversial confirmation vote in January.

Three bills enacted

Rep. Haaland was the lead sponsor of three bills that were enacted into law so far during her first term. That’s a pretty good number for any member of Congress during these polarized times, but especially for a first-term representative who doesn’t serve in an official leadership role. All three laws dealt with Native American policy, which Haaland would also deal with at Interior.

Not Invisible Act

Native American rates of murder, rape, and violent crime are all higher than the national averages. The Not Invisible Act creates a new position within the Interior Department dealing specifically with murder, trafficking, and missing Native Americans, and forms a new joint advisory committee between the Interior and Justice Departments on those issues.

“Every woman deserves to feel safe, but women in Native communities are going missing without a trace,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “The congressional members of federally recognized tribes are stepping up for our communities by working to set up an advisory board that is specifically focused on finding solutions to address this silent crisis,” referring to the bill being cosponsored by Native American Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK4), Sharice Davids (D-KS3), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2).

The Senate passed it by voice vote on March 11, then the House followed suit on September 21, and President Trump signed it into law on October 10, 2020.

PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act

Since 1975, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act has allowed Native American tribes to self-govern through many programs and services that were previously administered federally. The PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, which stands for Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination, makes some technical and bureaucratic tweaks and reforms to further expand tribes’ right to self-governance.

“Self-governance has been extraordinarily beneficial for Tribes to manage successful programs with the flexibility to utilize federal funds in a way that best fits the needs of their communities. Tribes are their own best stewards,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “However, serious gaps continue to exist that hinder the full exercise of Tribal self-governance.”

The Senate passed it by voice vote on June 27, 2019; the House did the same on September 21, 2020; and President Trump signed it into law on October 21, 2020.

Native American Business Incubators Program Act

Native Americans have the highest poverty rate of any racial group. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act creates a $5 million annual grant program within the Interior Department for tribal businesses, educational institutions, or other organizations.

When I was a young single mom trying to make ends meet, I started and ran a salsa company. That experience could have been so different if there was more access to resources,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “This bill will make sure future entrepreneurs in Indian Country can build businesses and break cycles of poverty in our communities.”

The Senate passed it by voice vote on June 27, 2019; the House did the same on September 21, 2020; and President Trump signed it into law on October 20, 2020.
Three bills introduced

Rep. Haaland has also introduced a number of bills dealing with issues she would tackle at the Interior Department. Here are three of them.


In December 2017, President Trump completed the largest rollback of national monument designations in U.S. history, reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — both in Utah — by a cumulative 2 million acres.

A month into her congressional tenure, the very first bill Rep. Haaland ever introduced was the ANTIQUITIES Act, which stands for “America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States.” The bill would clarify that Congress must officially declare any national monuments. It would also re-expand Bears Ears to 1.9 million acres and designate about 250,000 acres in Rep. Haaland’s home state of New Mexico as federally protected.

The name is a deliberate homage to the original Antiquities Act of 1906, which originally allowed the president to declare national monuments.

“We love our public lands, we love our open spaces, and we care about the future we’re going to leave for our children, but this administration has been illegally attacking our nation’s treasures so it can sell them off to oil companies and developers,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “As my first piece of legislation this bill expands on my efforts to fight climate change by protecting land from extraction, honor our sacred sites, and ensure our beautiful places are here for future generations. Our public lands are not for sale.”

Republicans contend not only that President Trump had the power to recede or rescind the monuments if he chose, but also that the bill may be unconstitutional. In the 1920 Supreme Court case Cameron v. United States, the Court unanimously upheld that President Theodore Roosevelt had the right to declare the Grand Canyon a national monument.

Despite receiving 113 cosponsors, all Democrats, the bill never received a vote in the Democratic-controlled House.

Climate Stewardship Act

From 1933 to 1942, during the Great Depression, the federal government ran the program Civilian Conservation Corps, employing hundreds of thousands of people to plant more than three billion trees and construct trails in more than 800 parks.

The Climate Stewardship Act would resurrect this program under the new name Stewardship Corps. The 84-page bill also contains provisions restoring 2+ million acres of coastal wetlands and investing in renewable energy.

“Climate change is an immediate threat our communities face that calls for bold solutions. However, deforestation and some current agricultural practices are making global warming worse,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. The bill would “incentivize farming practices that reduce emissions and promote reforestation. These steps are important to reversing climate change impacts that threaten the health and safety of our communities and our planet.”

The bill has attracted 10 cosponsors, all Democrats, but has not received a vote in the Democratic-controlled House.

Reconciliation in Place Names Act

Part of the Interior Department, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names designates the official names of lands, mountains, rivers, and other geographic features. A 2015 study estimated there may be as many as 1,441 domestic geographic features which had potentially offensive official names, such as Dead Negro Spring.

The Reconciliation in Place Names Act would create a new 16-member Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names to advise the board. This committee would consist of four Native American tribe members, four people with expertise in civil rights or race relations, four people with expertise in anthropology or cultural studies, one person representing a tribal organization, with the last three intended to represent the general public at large.

“All visitors to public lands deserve to feel welcome and comfortable while enjoying all that nature has to offer them. However, offensive or racist place names are restricting access and prevent many from feeling welcome on lands that belong to all of us,” Rep. Haaland said in a press release. “It’s past time to change the offensive names of public lands, especially with input from groups who have been discriminated against.”

The bill has attracted 15 cosponsors, all Democrats, but has not received a vote in the Democratic-controlled House.

Presumably, President Donald Trump would oppose this bill. After President Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell changed the name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Mount Denali, reverting to the summit’s original name in the native language Koyukon, Trump tweeted, “Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!” referring to the namesake President William McKinley hailing from Ohio.

(However, Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ultimately kept the name Denali at the request of Alaska’s two U.S. senators.)

About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands and the Chesapeake Bay; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 52 years to the late Kincey Burdett Potter (see President of the now-sunsetting Island Resources Foundation.
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